Most brain functions involve interactions among multiple, distinct areas or nuclei. For instance, visual processing in primates requires the appropriate relaying of signals across many distinct cortical areas. Yet our understanding of how populations of neurons in interconnected brain areas communicate is in its infancy. Here we investigate how trial-to-trial fluctuations of population responses in primary visual cortex (V1) are related to simultaneously recorded population responses in area V2. Using dimensionality reduction methods, we find that V1-V2 interactions occur through a communication subspace: V2 fluctuations are related to a small subset of V1 population activity patterns, distinct from the largest fluctuations shared among neurons within V1. In contrast, interactions between subpopulations within V1 are less selective. We propose that the communication subspace may be a general, population-level mechanism by which activity can be selectively routed across brain areas.
Keywords: area V2; corticocortical; dimensionality reduction; inter-areal communication; macaque; neural population; neural variability; primary visual cortex; vision; visual cortex.
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